Early 'Ghostbusters' Reviews: The Movie is Too Safe to Be Great

Unfortunately the cast is the only thing radical about the safe reboot.

Columbia Pictures

After what felt like a never-ending culture war fought over the announcement of an all-female Ghostbusters movie, the critics can finally weigh in on how this new film compares to the original. Unfortunately the reviews won’t dissuade naysayers as critics seem to agree that the film is just “okay,” hampered by a studio desire to keep everything safe.

Obviously a cast of four talented women can easily hold their own against their male predecessors, but the film’s desire to please everyone seems to have hurt the new Ghostbusters in the eyes of critics. If you’re intent on hating the film because it replaces your favorite Boomer dude comedians with women, you might be wasting your time as the biggest tick against the film seems to be how similar it is to the 1984 original.

Jen Yamato from The Daily Beast was the first to point out how cookie-cutter safe the new film was, writing,

Unfortunately Ghostbusters also comes saddled with the trappings of 21st century studio filmmaking: lulls in pacing, kiddie-safe comedy, choppy editing, and the general sense that a sharper, ballsier version exists in an alternate Hollywood universe. Nevertheless, with a crackling sense of purpose and a surplus of reverence for their predecessors, new Ghostbusters Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, and Saturday Night Live standouts Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones plant their own flag on a beloved sci-fi comedy franchise—even if it’ll still take a miracle from beyond to convert the hypercritical haters.

She goes on to echo the sentiment repeated by other reviewers when she gushes over Kate McKinnon’s role in the new film,

McKinnon’s Holtzmann, meanwhile, is the secret weapon of this Ghostbusters. Aside from spewing rapid-fire technical jargon as the team’s resident eccentric gearhead, McKinnon oozes visceral charisma with the swagger — sans the womanizing douchiness — of Murray’s Venkman. She flirts brazenly with Erin, emanating cocksure confidence even if we learn very little about Holtzmann as a character. Hemsworth might be the beefcake on paper but it’s McKinnon who’ll leave moviegoers crushing.

Peter Debruge from Variety also echoes how familiar the new Ghostbusters feels in light of the original,

For Feig, who has carved out his niche in the comedy sphere by helming such distaff-led laffers as The Heat and Spy, this property offers a unique opportunity to test how a major Hollywood franchise might fare if entrusted to a female-driven ensemble although it would be wrong to blame this side-splitting quartet for the film’s underwhelming box office performance. The problem isn’t that Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson created characters too iconic to surpass; the fault lies in the fact that this new Ghostbusters doesn’t want us to forget them, crafting its new team in the earlier team’s shadow.

Barry Hertz from The Globe and Mail heaped praise on the new film, writing,

But in terms of the new Ghostbusters film itself, the premature protesters couldn’t be further off the mark. Paul Feig’s female-led reboot of the long-dormant franchise is thrilling, hilarious, lovingly crafted and the wild, colourful, giddy blockbuster this otherwise staid summer movie season so desperately needs.

Julia Alexander writing for Polygon was also ready to praise the cast for lifting up material that would have been duller in lesser comedic talents,

Ghostbusters is at its best when its main stars — Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon — are on screen together. It’s a movie that relies on the antics of an ensemble for some of the bigger jokes to land and when Feig lets the comedians work off of one another’s momentum, it feels like the film we were hoping for.

At The Village Voice, Melissa Anderson writes,

Ghostbusters 2.0 suffers from the anxiety of influence or, more specifically, from the fear of not wanting to alienate the fans (Gen X’ers and others) of 1.0. It never strays far from the anodyne, generic humor that pervades the Ivan Reitman–directed 1984 original, written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, who starred with Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson. All of the principal cast (except for Ramis, who died in 2014, and to whom the film is dedicated) pop up in cameos, as do three secondary actors (two made of flesh and bone, the other from sugar and gelatin) — cloying appearances that have become de rigueur in remakes but that here especially highlight the timidity of Feig’s project.

Angie Han of /Film writes,

It’s probably not surprising, then, that Ghostbusters is at its best when it feels most like classic Feig. The early scenes — where our leads are just starting to come together but before the main supernatural plotline has really kicked in — are the strongest. Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon have crackling chemistry together, and it’s a pleasure just to watch them hang out. Since Ghostbusters is PG-13, the humor is necessarily a bit cleaner, but on the whole the comedy doesn’t feel too different from Feig’s other work. Once again, it’s all about big personalities bouncing off of each other, launching into semi-improvised riffs and the occasional bit of slapstick-y physical comedy.

From Vox, Caroline Framke writes,

The reboot … strains so hard to prove it’s having a good time that its seams don’t just show, but start to tear apart under the pressure. But the situation isn’t always so dire. When the movie is at its best, it’s scrappy, eager to please, and — thanks to some superb comedic acting — deliciously strange.

Finally, IGN’s Terri Schwartz writes,

I wanted to love this new Ghostbusters, but unfortunately it is just fine, though not for the reasons many would expect. The Ghostbusters themselves are great; Wiig and McCarthy ground the film with a great friendship and the chemistry they established during their previous work with Feig together, each taking on a different sort of role than what they’ve become known for in their other comedy work. Jones is also fantastic, being the layman who blends so well with the other three scientists on her team and nailing her jokes every time.
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